AVE YOU HEARD the hymn called Te Saeculorum Principem? In March, I posted five different English translations that can be sung using various melodies in the Brébeuf hymnal. The hymn was written for the institution of the feast of Christ the King in 1925. It was composed by Father Vittorio Genovési, hymnographer of the Sacred Congregation of Rites from 1942 until his death in 1967. The fifth verse explicitly references the Holy Eucharist: “For this, Thou art hidden on our altars under the form of bread and wine, and pour out on Thy children from Thy pierced side the grace of salvation.”
A Live Recording: My choir sang this hymn last Sunday, and I’m so proud of the progress they are making. Most of these singers do not read music, and many had no previous musical training. Our choir is 100% volunteer. If you want a reference, the hymn is #753 in the Brébeuf hymnal. Here’s a live recording:
Broken Hymns: If you have a copy of the Brébeuf hymnal, you realize that Pope Urban VIII destroyed the ancient Breviary hymns in 1629, with the help of four Jesuit poets. 1 Father Ulysse Chevalier (d. 1923) summarized the Urbanite revisions in these words: “the Jesuits have spoiled the work of Christian antiquity, under the pretext of restoring the hymns in accordance with the laws of metre and elegant language.” Every serious scholar who has ever looked at what Pope Urban VIII did has condemned his actions: Father Fortescue, Abbé Pimont, Monsignor Henry, and so forth.
Trying To Fix Them: The Second Vatican Council wanted to fix what Pope Urban VIII had done, so in paragraph 93 of Sacrosanctum Concilium they declared: “The hymns are to be restored to their original form.” However, the actual restoration left much to be desired, and someday I hope to write an article explaining what I mean by that. When it comes to Te Saeculorum Principem, the reformers “canceled” several of the verses. However, the Brébeuf editorial team—which spent years examining each hymn—did not eliminate those verses. Therefore, you can find the missing verses (deleted after Vatican II) inside the Brébeuf hymnal.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 The Jesuit poets who assisted Pope Urban VIII were: Father Mathias Casimir Sarbiewski (d. 1640), Father Famiano Strada (d. 1649), Father Tarquinio Galluzzi (d. 1649), and Father Girolamo Petrucci (d. 1669). Sometimes they only left a few words of the original hymns. In other cases, they completely re-wrote the hymn: e.g. Tibi Christe Splendor Patris for Michaelmas.